One setting I found on Sony mirrorless that makes them function more like a DSLR

Kit Lens Jockey

Nov 12, 2016
I've been experimenting with Sony mirrorless, specifically the A7 III, and while I'm slowly learning the strengths of the camera and its advantages, right out of the box, the thing felt extremely finicky. Namely, the most irritating thing was the automatic switching between using the rear screen and the viewfinder to take photos. I rarely use live view on my 5D to take photos, and I didn't want it on the Sony. But in its stock configuration, the camera pretty much forces it on you.

With the stock settings, the screen is the default way to take photos, until you press your eye up to the viewfinder, at which point it switches to the viewfinder, and then it goes back to using the screen as soon as you move the camera away from your face. I just wanted it to work like a DSLR... Viewfinder for taking photos, screen for looking at them and changing camera settings.

At first I just shut off the automatic switching and used a custom button to manually switch back and forth between the two. This was ok, but it was still very clunky. It stopped the screen from coming on every time I let the camera hang down at my side, but after I reviewed photos or changed settings, if I forgot to switch back to the viewfinder, I risked putting the camera up to my face and staring into a dark viewfinder.

Finally, I discovered a setting hidden under the camera tab number 2, page 6 of 9. In here, Choose the "DISP Button" setting, and then "Monitor." (Seriously, I love the tech on this camera, but these menus drive me up a fucking wall. They're truly absurd.)

In this setting, you can see there are different possible displays that you can have the rear screen use when the rear screen is being used to take photos. Like the live view options in Canon, there are various things you can show overlaid on the screen like an electronic level, etc.

HOWEVER, one of these display options is "Monitor Off." It's unchecked by default, but turning this on is the key to making the camera function more like a DSLR.

Check this option (and uncheck all the others if you don't want the camera to have a live view function at all.) Also ensure that the automatic switching between the viewfinder and the screen is set to on.

After enabling this, when you take the camera away from your face, it will technically switch over to the rear screen, but if it's in that display mode of "monitor off," it will not act as a live view, it just goes off. This is nice because if you playback photos, or press the menu button, these will still show up on the screen, but as soon as you go back to shooting, the rear screen goes dark, and only the viewfinder is used for shooting, which will automatically activate when you put your eye up to the finder. So in this way it's very similar to a DSLR.

Hope this helps someone making the transition but supremely frustrated by the way the camera always seems to want to default to a sort of live view functionality the way I was.